“I wasn’t allowed to see the foetus, because they felt it might destabilise me mentally, but my husband saw him and he still finds it hard to talk to me about what he saw.
While, I know that he is trying to protect from any more of the trauma of our miscarriage experience, I can’t help but feel that he is protecting himself too.
After I suffered my miscarriage and was discharged from the hospital, my mom came to stay with me. She practically did everything in the house, while I just gisted with her, when I felt up to it. She cared for me, physically, mentally and emotionally. Whenever, I broke down, she was there with me, reading scriptures. In fact, I cannot count the number of times I had drifted off to lala land with my mom’s voice murmuring prayers or scriptures around me.
My husband didn’t have such support, and I couldn’t provide it. We spent a lot of time together, but couldn’t both talk about the one thing we both really wanted to talk about. We weren’t ready, so a lot of silence and sighs, hugs and back patting filled our couple time.
And that was how the distance between my husband and I grew, but I couldn’t help myself, because I was in so much emotional pain, I didn’t know what to do or how to do relate with him. I just wanted to be left in my own floating world.
Several months later, I had gained some semblance of my old self and my mom left. That was when I was finally able to start working on my relationship with my husband again. I look back now and smile at the way we were like newlyweds all over again, trying to gauge each other’s reactions and all.
It’s a slow journey, but we are committed to walking this path, making our marriage work, in spite of the clogs (read miscarriages) that have been thrown in the wheel. We have had that hard conversation, we have cried in each other’s arms, we have comforted each other and we will do it again, if we have to…but I hope not.”
The above was Iyiola’s aftermath experience of her miscarriage.
A miscarriage is felt sharply different by both husband and wife. While women may feel an intense physical bonding and grief for a foetus with whom they have already grown attached, men might feel more ephemerally connected and cheated of the opportunity to begin their bonding with the baby.
With their feelings so different, their reaction to the loss is also bound to be different.
Also, this difference in the reasons for grieving can put a strain on even the strongest relationships. For example, a man may feel sad but also wonder why it’s taking his wife so long to come to terms with the miscarriage. This can create tension in their relationship as they struggle to come to terms with the causes of the miscarriage and attempt to deal with the ensuing grief.
A recent study on women’s perceptions on their relationship after a miscarriage (1) shows a dramatic decrease in interpersonal and sexual intimacy for most couples up to one year after a miscarriage. At that point, only about half of women interviewed report a return to normalcy in their relationship (there is no data available on men’s perceptions).
To walk through the heartbreak of miscarriage and walk out at the other end of the tunnel stronger, here are some tips.
Too often, people hide their feelings (couples do this too), even unintentionally, because of guilt, resentment or just the simple assumption that their partners know how they feel without needing to speak up.
But that’s not the appropriate reaction. It is a lot better to talk to each other, talk to other people who know what you’re going through.
Just don’t expect anyone to know what you are thinking if you don’t share.
Be patient with yourself and your partner:
Give each other the freedom to deal with this situation in your own unique ways, but don’t be afraid to be honest about your own feelings, even if your partner doesn’t seem to understand.
You and your partner will often experience different feelings and reactions about the miscarriage, but be rest assured that this will likely change over time. Try to accept that this is very normal and try to be understanding of what your partner is going through.
It’s alright to evaluate your relationship:
Experiencing a miscarriage will often make you re-evaluate all sorts of things about yourself, your relationship with your partner, as well as your priorities.
At this stage, you need to accept the fact that the miscarriage has had a lasting effect on your relationship, but remember that you alone have the power to influence whether this effect is for better or worse.
It is not a cliché but really time heals. Don’t feel bad that your grief or that of your partner sticks around longer than you thought it would.
It’s not uncommon for couples dealing with miscarriage to have a bad day sometimes after they thought they have recovered sufficiently. Negative emotions can come and go; just remember that better days are ahead.
Coping with a loss of any kind, including a miscarriage is a unique experience for each of us and there is really no “right way” to go about it.
Certainly, women, in general, do not need to learn to “toughen up” and deal with their grief. Nor do men need to become more vulnerable and express themselves more deeply.
Our differences enrich our lives and, together, a couple is stronger.
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